House Republicans introduce bill to block tracking religious accommodations to COVID vaccine
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FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent the federal government from tracking information on individuals who receive a religious exemption to the coronavirus vaccine.
The bill comes after the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) for the District of Columbia – a federal entity – announced a system recording “personal religious information” of employees with “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Norman said: “The ability for individuals to openly practice their faith without fear of retribution is a precious right we must guard closely.”
Rep. Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
“As if overreaching government vaccine mandates aren’t bad enough, it is highly inappropriate for federal dollars to be used to collect information about someone’s religious beliefs. The only way to prevent this information from being abused is to prevent its collection in the first place, and I thank Rep. Hinson for joining me in this effort,” he added.
Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, argued that “[a]ny form of database tracking religious beliefs flies in the face of our First Amendment—U.S. citizens are guaranteed the right to make their own medical decisions without fear of government reprisal.”
Lurie Children’s hospital registered nurse Carolyn Ruyle prepares a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Lurie Children’s hospital Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Dubbed the Religious Freedom Over Mandates Act, the bill would apply to federal funding for records systems.
It reads: “No Federal funds may be used to establish, operate, maintain, or support any system of records on religious accommodations requested by, or granted to, an employee, detailed, contractor, consultant, intern, applicant, volunteer, or any other person with respect to any COVID-19 vaccination requirement.”
PSA did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
An entry in the Federal Register touts the system, known as the Employee Religious Exception Request Information System.
It reads: “The system of records will assist the Agency in the collection, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency, as referenced above.”
A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued mixed rulings in a pair of cases challenging Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandates, allowing the requirement for certain health care workers to go into effect while blocking enforcement of a mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.
The court also ruled that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra did have the authority to require all health care workers at institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to get the vaccine, unless they get medical or religious exemptions.
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